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University President Apologizes for Cotton Stalk Centerpieces at Dinner for Black Students

Lipscomb University in Tennessee uses cotton stalk centerpieces for a dinner for African American  students
Lipscomb University in Tennessee uses cotton stalk centerpieces for a dinner for African American students

*A university president has apologized after hosting a welcome dinner for African American students that featured decorations that some felt harkened back to the days of slavery and picking cotton.

“Several students shared with me their concern about the material used for centerpieces which contained stalks of cotton, president Randy Lowry wrote in a statement posted to the school’s Facebook page.

“The content of the centerpieces was offensive, and I could have handled the situation with more sensitivity,” he added.

“I sincerely apologize for the discomfort, anger or disappointment we caused and solicit your forgiveness.”

As previously reported, Instagram user nakalayvonne, who was present at the dinner, posted pics of the offensive centerpieces to social media, saying the evening was supposed to be a chance for black students to ask the president questions about the predominantly white university.

She said that when Lowry was asked why there was cotton on the table, he told the students he didn’t know.

“He kind of thought it was ‘fallish,’ THEN he said ‘it ISNT INHERENTLY BAD IF WERE ALL WEARING IT’ then walked off,” nakalayvonne wrote on Instagram.

Lowry told local newspaper the Tennessean that he was “probably not as artful as I should have been” in his response, “but I was trying to meet everybody and get on with the show.”

“I wrote in my apology that I did the next day how I understand that cotton represents something to some of the African American community that takes us back to the deplorable times of slavery. So I understand that student and am extraordinarily sorry to have anything on the table that would have been offensive,” he told the newspaper.

Lowry has said he will meet again with black students to discuss their concerns.

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